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Volume 23 No. 29
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CBS climbs on for more PBR with extension

Even though the Professional Bull Riders had more than two years left on its media rights deal with CBS, the circuit’s owner, Endeavor, fielded calls from rival media companies interested in buying the rights when they became available.

Endeavor President Mark Shapiro did not engage in the talks since the negotiating window was not open. 

“But it gave us a good view of what’s to come,” Shapiro said. “We didn’t have to do anything right now.”

As part of the deal, CBS will carry the PBR’s annual Ryder Cup-style Global Cup.
Photo: courtesy of bull stock media

Shapiro and PBR executives were comfortable with CBS, which has carried the sport since 2012. The two opened negotiations to extend their deal — an extension that will be announced this week. CBS will carry PBR events through 2028, committing more broadcast hours and marketing to the sport.

“There’s nobody I want to build the next chapter with more than [CBS Sports Chairman] Sean McManus,” Shapiro said. “He gets it in every way. He comes from the early days at IMG, so he’s got a marketing hat, he’s got a content hat, he looks at things as a producer.”

The companies would not comment on financials, but the deal terms have CBS carrying almost 20 hours per year of PBR programming on its broadcast channel.

Its cable channel, CBS Sports Network, will carry more than 85 hours of PBR content per year from 28 events. CBS Sports Network will produce a preview show leading into each night of the World Finals in November.

CBS was eager to continue its PBR relationship after seeing the sport’s growth since 2012, said Dan Weinberg, the network’s executive vice president of programming. PBR events averaged more than 1 million viewers per CBS broadcast during the 2018-19 season.

“It’s a really important property for us,” Weinberg said. “PBR has grown into a really powerful sports brand and sports property.”

Both CBS and PBR executives credit their partnership with fueling that growth — from developing four “major” events to establishing a Ryder Cup-style Global Cup. As part of the deal, CBS will carry the five-nation Global Cup competition every year.

“It was a no-brainer for us to enter into this negotiation,” said Sean Gleason, PBR’s CEO. “We’ve grown in every part of our business, and we can track that success to our relationship with CBS. … If we had waited to take our rights to the open market, it may have yielded something better. But I’m not so sure that would be the case.”